The Centre on Saturday asserted that adequate funds were available during the2012-13 financial year to meet job demands by below poverty line (BPL) households under the Mahatma Gandhi NREGS.
Union Minister of Rural Development Jairam Ramesh underlined that he has recommended reallocation of funds for rural development, especially fordrinking water and sanitation projects, to ensure inclusive growth and reflect the percolation of the high growth rate to the rural side.
At the budget preparation stage, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had proposed reduction in the allocation for MGNREGS to Rs. 35,000 crore from Rs. 40,000 crore provided in 2011-12.
However, on Mr. Ramesh's suggestion, he increased the cut to Rs. 7000 crore and provided Rs. 33,000 crore for 2012-13.
Mr. Ramesh said that he proposed higher reduction becauseRs. 6000 crore was already available with the States as their opening balance and the States' contribution of Rs. 3300 crore actually ensures availability of Rs. 42,300 crore.
He said the available fund was adequate to meet the demands for job given the anticipated expenditure during the current financial year was Rs. 38,000 crore.
Mr. Ramesh assured that the Finance Minister would revisit the numbers in November depending on the quality of monsoon.
“If the monsoons are good, demand for jobs will be less. But if it is bad, then there would be a higher demand for jobs. More money would then be provided,” Mr. Ramesh maintained.
He pointed out that though the States had projected a labour budget of Rs. 60,000 crore for 2011-12, the anticipated expenditure was much less at Rs. 38,000 against the Rs. 58000 crore available with them.
Other carry-forward expenditures during the current financial year leaves them with just Rs. 6000 crore as opening balance in 2012-13.
Mr. Ramesh said the notion that funds had been slashed were completely bogus.
The reduction was to ensure that more funds were made available for drinking water and sanitation, he asserted.